(Psst – This post is on the long side because it is PACKED with value for your small business’ content marketing strategy. But if you’re pressed for time and need a cheat sheet, you can download one here!)
If you’ve spent any time learning about business in the online world, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about content marketing.
This awesome form of marketing is based around creating and sharing online material. The point isn’t to directly promote and sell your products or services.
The goal of content marketing is to stimulate interest in your brand, get the word out about what you do, and connect with potential customers.
But how exactly are you supposed to do that?
What is this content you’re supposed to be creating?
Are you just supposed to have a million web pages?
If you’re trying to jump on board the content marketing train but haven’t yet figured out what kind of content you should actually be using, then you’re in the right place.
I’ve got 25 different types of content marketing for you to try.
But before we get into the 25 types of content you can start creating and sharing to help grow your audience and your business, here are a few things I want you to know:
1. You don’t have to do everything.
Just because a type of content works for some businesses, or is interesting to some people, doesn’t mean you HAVE to do it too.
You may not be interested in creating memes! Your customers may not care about product reviews. White papers may not fit with your business model. All of this is perfectly fine.
Pick the content that make most sense for you, your business, and your audience.
As long as you have a variety in there, you’re doing great.
2. You don’t have to do everything right away.
This might sound familiar: you hear that video is “the next big thing” for content marketing, so the very next day you set up your webcam, stumble through a video, panic over how to edit it, and throw it up on your website. You don’t feel great about it, and no one seems to really respond or comment.
By the next day, you’ve decided that video is for the birds and you’re never doing it again, no matter what anyone says.
Rushing to make big changes right away so often results in lackluster content that you don’t feel good about, don’t want to share, and ultimately end up feeling discouraged about.
So don’t try to do everything at once.
Pick a few new types of content from the list, take some time, and really create something you feel proud of. Then try the next thing. Then the next.
Be intentional and pace yourself if you want to end up with content that’s good for both your audience and your business.
3. Having a schedule will help you out big time.
Producing a variety of content is great.
Producing a variety of content in a predictable, intentional manner that supports your business goals and keeps your audience interested?
That is absolutely awesome. And the best way to do that is to have a schedule.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. A few notes in your calendar or a spreadsheet will help you keep track of what’s going on in your business, what you’ve recently published, and what content you have in the works.
The point is to plan it all out so that you’re never stuck wondering what to write or confused about how all this content ties into your overarching business goals.
4. Don’t be afraid to try new things (even if you’re scared they won’t work).
Never created a meme before? Not sure if your customers will respond to a case study? Unsure if you have enough to say for a good product review?
You can spend hours (days/weeks/years) second guessing yourself and wondering if what you create is good enough.
Or you can just sit down, get to work, and see what happens.
Because, yes, trying something new is scary. Putting your work in front of an audience can make you want to hide.
But neither of those is harder than starting a business, and you’ve already checked that off the list.
Trying out a new type of content to market that business? Not worth hours of worry and panic. It will work or it won’t.
Either way, you’ll have learned something valuable.
5. Always aim for creating REAL, HELPFUL content, not just filler.
As in, it’s better to publish fewer pieces of high-quality content than lots of fluffy filler pieces that lack value.
Ask yourself, would I read this if I came across it on a website? Will this actually help my audience? Will someone find this interesting? Or am I just publishing it because I don’t know what else to put out there?
Two pieces of awesome, helpful, actionable content that are carefully and skillfully produced will do way more to market your small business than 20 fluffy blog posts that you threw together in a weekend and stuffed with keywords.
It may be cliched, but that doesn’t stop it from being true: focus on quality, not quantity.
Psst – Want a cheat sheet that gives you all the information you need to get started with content marketing for your small business, including where to use 25 different types of content? I’ve got you covered:
Now that we’ve got all those important notes taken care of, on to what you came here for:
25 Types of Content Marketing That You Can Use for Your Small Business
Oh man. Lists. You can seriously do so much with lists because there are so many kinds of lists. This post right here? A list. (This one is too.) (And this one.) Lists are easy for your audience to digest (read: skim on their phones and still get something of real value), have a straightforward structure for you to put together, and can cover basically any topic you want.
Interviews pack a two-for-one whammy: they provide content AND connection. Want to solidify a relationship with a customer? Reward a loyal client? Network with a major player in your industry? Make a new online buddy? Interview them. People are almost always flattered to be asked for an interview.
Not going to beat around the bush here, infographics take an investment of either time or money to get right. If you have design skills and several available hours, you can make your own, or you can hire a designer to put them together. But the result of that investment will be incredibly shareable. More shares = more new viewers = more potential customers learning about your small business.
Like lists, you can create how-tos on a variety of topics. But of course, they should be relevant to your business and the interests of your audience. If you sell awesome socks, for example, you can share “how to wash your socks so they last forever.” If you photograph weddings, you can write “how to find your perfect wedding style.” Not only do how-tos provide real value to your customers, they give you a chance to toot your own horn a little and show off your expertise. Sounds good, right?
Video is scary for a lot of content creators (including me). But it’s also something more content creators need to start using (including me). Why? Clients really respond to authenticity. And it’s a lot harder to hide behind a video than it is to hide behind a Pinterest post.
Memes? Yes, memes. If you need content for your social media, creating a meme is a funny, clever, easy way to hop on a trend, get shared by a lot of people, and join the conversation for a day or two. Sites like Meme Generator or Quick Meme make it easy to put together an image with the potential to go viral.
Imagine deciding between two products online: one with 5 rave reviews, and one with no reviews at all. Which would you pick? Probably the one with the rave reviews, right? Because if other people have tried it and loved it, you reason, you’re more likely to love it too, so it’s worth the investment of your time and money. Well, when you share client testimonials on your website or social media, you show potential customers that your business is worth the investment of their time and money.
8. Case studies
A case study is a detailed report of a particular person’s experience or story, and like a testimonial, it’s a great form of social proof. For example, if you are a personal trainer and nutritionist, you could share a case study of a particular client’s experience with your services and the awesome results you produced for them. Case studies make great downloads for potential customers to peruse and learn from.
9. White papers
A white paper is kind of like a long, in-depth case study examining a particular service, policy, technology, or product. A white paper provides your customers with huge value by giving them all the information they need to understand part of your business, including the backstory, market conditions, other options, and results they can expect. A white paper takes a long time (or a monetary investment) to put together, but for complex issues, it will persuade your customers like no other form of content can.
Sharing some practical advice? Educating customers on how to do something themselves? Looking for a freebie to include with a blog post? A checklist is straightforward to put together and gives your customers concrete actions to take. Concrete actions = concrete value, something all good content marketing should have.
Great for long-form blog posts, website downloads, or content bonuses, guides are another form of concrete value that you can provide for your audience. And like a how-to or a list, they can focus on just about any (relevant) topic you want. A word of caution, though: if you’re creating a guide that can be downloaded, you’ll want to put real effort in the design elements as well as the content.
12. Product reviews
Reviews of products other than your own, that is. Why? One, because reviews are incredibly helpful for your audience as long as they are about relevant products or services. (For example, if you provide business coaching to bloggers, reviewing a free design services is helpful. Reviewing a great new thermos that you bought, not so much.) And two, reviews let you add relevant search terms to your website. That way, when a blogger searches for “free design service,” your website is more likely to pop up. And then not only do you tell them what they need to know, hey, you also provide coaching services they can benefit from!
13. Industry news
Industry news is a great way to stay relevant and up-to-date. It lets you piggy back on trending items while also providing value to your audience. And it positions you as a go-to source for current information, another form of showing off your expertise.
14. Link round-ups
Do you find articles or blog posts that you think your readers would find interesting? Sharing multiple links in a single post allows you to aggregate valuable content without having to write it all yourself. Be sure to tag or @mention anyone whose work you include when you post about your round-up on social media. Not only are they’re likely to share your post, which puts you and your work in front of their audience, they also have the chance to get to know you and your work. Sharing + networking? Heck yes!
15. Company news
Big or small, rebrand or new hire, news about your business is relevant to your customers because it (a) affects them, and (b) helps them get to know the people behind the brand. Customers are more likely to trust companies that they feel like they know, and whose inner workings they understand, so sharing company news helps to create relationships that can directly lead to a more engaged audience and more sales.
16. Product launch
This should actually be more than one piece of content! If you’re launching a new product or service, the lead up can provide you with a ton of content to share. Think: multiple blog posts, social media shares, maybe even a webinar or video. Every piece of content related to your launch should be unique and provide real value independent of the product you are launching. But they should all tie back to that launch and help your audience get excited about what is coming up. That excitement will make them more likely to invest their money when the launch actually happens.
17. Personal struggle/success story
Nothing is more relatable than a personal story of struggle and success. Sharing lessons learned will help customers get to know you and answer questions they might be Googling late at night. You can share your own story, or share a customer’s struggle and how your business helped them. Not only will this humanize your brand, it will also serve as a form of social proof that your services work.
18. Day at the office/Day in the life
I can’t be the only one out there who loves reading about how people spend their time, right? It makes me feel like I’m talking with a friend and developing a personal relationship with the writer. Plus, they’re fun to write! Or, you could do a video if you really want to give them a peek at your day.
19. Behind the scenes
Want to really let customers get to know your brand? Show them how you do what you do. Show them the start-to-finish process for designing a product. Share the steps you took to launch a course. Let them see what happens in a photo shoot, not just the final images. Whether you’re creating written or video content, a peek at how your business works is a great way of both getting attention and spotlighting a specific product or service.
20. Industry spotlight
Content marketing doesn’t have to focus solely on your business, though it should always relate back to the work you do. Spotlighting a person or upcoming event in your industry is a great way to join a broader conversation (and incorporate more keywords and network while you’re at it). It also gives you a lot to talk about on social media.
Pay attention to trends in your industry and tell your customers about them. Trendspotting adds searchable terms to your website, as well as showing that you are an expert in your industry. Plus, if you have products related to those trends, you can give them a plug!
22. Event report
Reporting on an event that your customers are interested ticks a lot of boxes on the content marketing front: keywords, audience interest, showing expertise, joining the conversation… Plus, depending on your industry, it can be a great way to show off your work! For example, an event planner can share details of a party. A maker can show photos of his booth at a trade show. A speaker can share a video snippet from a conference where she spoke. You audience learns more about the industry and more about your business.
Studies and surveys, whether your own or someone else’s, provide a lot of expert information. Research makes for great blog posts, but you can also use it in case studies, white papers, guides, website pages… anytime you can link to an authoritative source, do it!
Sharing useful, usable, free products is a key part of content marketing. Yes, templates take time to create. But you can use them over and over again as opt-in freebies or add-ons to blog posts. Plus adding good SEO to the images of your templates adds more search terms to your website.
Newsletters delivered via email go directly to an interested audience of potential (or current!) customers. They allow you to keep your brand at the top of someone’s mind, share special offers, and build a trusting relationship. Here’s the catch, though: people are picky about what takes up space in their inbox. Your newsletters need to be full of awesome content, otherwise people will just unsubscribe.
Whew! That was a lot of information, I know.
But now you can go forth and create so much awesome content for marketing your small business!
Remember, if you want a cheat sheet to reference, you can download one here: